Monday, September 3, 2007

One Terrible Night

I wanted to share with you a life experience that happened to our family two years ago today. We lived in a very small, but very cute little house. We had built it about 7 years before, so it was fairly new. It wasn't anything great, but I loved that house, and had filled it with all the special memories of bringing two of my children home there. That is the house that I spent so much of my time raising those little boys when we were all home all day together. This is a picture of our house when it was almost finished.

At about 11:00 pm, we were all asleep and I heard someone knocking on the door. I woke Richard up, and he went to the back door to check it out. When he did, he saw the entire carport engulfed in flames. He screamed "We're on fire" in this horrific voice that I hope to never hear again. We both ran to the other end of the house where the kids were. He went and got the kids out of bed, and me being the mother that I am, grabbed five of my scrapbooks. Richard went back in to get the keys to his truck, and his cell phone. He tried to grab some pictures off the wall because he knew how much I loved every single picture. He made it out, and was able to back his truck out and save the dog. Then, the only thing to do was wait for the fire truck, and then watch my entire house,with all those precious memories, burn down. Here is a picture of what my cute little house looked like the morning after:

Here's my brand new Suburban:

Here's one more. It is the saddest to me because you can see Cade's little Pooh backpack hanging on his closet door.

I could go on and on, each picture just as important to me as the others. Richard's partner took these, and I am so grateful. I obviously didn't even own a camera (I didn't even own a bra!!), and even if I did, my brain was so shot that I wouldn't have thought to document it. I wish that I had more pictures of us through the next few weeks. We went home with my brother and SIL, and lived with them for the next 5 weeks. The morning after, I called my best friend who lives about an hour away, and asked her if she would bring me some clothes (underwear and all). Thank God, we're the same size. When she got there, we went to start collecting things that we woke up without: toothbrushes, shoes, clothes, uniforms for school, backpacks, etc, etc,. The list goes on and on. We walked out the house in our pj's. The neighbors came through, and dressed us and the kids (after Richard had paced the street in his boxers for about an hour). But that is all we had the next morning. So many people came through for us, giving us clothes, food, etc. It is amazing to literally have nothing. I felt very connected to the people who had just gone through hurricane Katrina. We were all homeless, walking through Target, buying toothbrushes!

Here are a few things I have learned from this experience:

Things that you think you "could never live without" - you can.

Yes, pictures ARE that important.

Even if you have smoke detectors, if there is a fire in the attic, they might not go off. Ours didn't start beeping until the roof had fallen in. We were about 5 minutes from all dying. We now have heat detectors installed in the attic.

As long as your family is together, you can survive anything. A couple weeks after this, a family we know lost a baby to SIDS. It put everything into perspective. All my babies were safe.

I could go on and on, with details of the fire, the aftermath, how we found a place to live in the wake of Katrina, how God has healed us emotionally (I'm still a basket case at certain times, tonight for example). He has been faithful. My children still talk about it, but don't seem to be scarred from it. I can't hear a siren without almost having a heart attack, but it is getting better and better.

Tomorrow is my Braden's 9th birthday. Poor thing, his presents burned in the fire two years ago. He now associates his birthday with our house burning down, which I hate. I think that will pass with time.

Well, go be safe, and give those babies an extra kiss tonight. I know I will.


Denise said...

I am so sorry that you had to go through this! I will hug my kids a lot tighter tonight...thank you for sharing this difficult experience. (It makes me want to put all of my scrapbooks in a fire safe box.) I will be praying for you...

mommy24treasures said...

oh! I am SO SORRY! I am so thankful that you are all alive and well. My my my... I am speechless.
hugs to you

Dawn and Dale said...

Oh my goodness!!!

I can't even imagine all that you've had to go through! Here I am complaining away today...and I'm just plain thankful!

Bless you!

redmaryjanes said...

I am so sorry that you had this experience. Your house was just darling. I am so grateful that you all got out safely.

Donna & Andrew said...

OMG, I am so sorry that you and your family had to go thru something so difficult & traumatic.
Happy 9th birthday to your sweet son, may he have a great day!

Nancy said...

What a tramatic experience. Thank heavens for the person who knocked on your back door. He/she saved all of your lives.

I can't imagine going through that. However, I have let my husband know that aside from the kids, the scrapbooks are the first thing we save.

I hope your son has a great 9th birthday, and many others that will replace the memory of the fire with something much better. said...

Wow. How awful. No, not awful, horrific! Omg. I can't imagine the pain. The loss. The frieght you must have felt. I'm so sorry. You obviously are a strong family with a lot of love and faith. I can't wait to see pictures of the new house complete.

Chris & Deb said...

I am so sorry you had to go through this horrific experience! Thanks for the reminder to remember what is important in life! I will certainly give my family an extra hug tonight! Have a great week!

Life With All Boys said...

OH my gosh! I just don't even know what to say. How horrible. I can't even begin to imagine. Thank you for sharing this.

sheryl said...

Oh Jennifer, I am so sorry your family had to suffer such a horrific nightmare. I am so glad that you and your family got out okay and now are living in a time of hope and happiness. Your new home will be absolutely beautiful and you will fill it with many, many wonderful new memories with your boys and your daughter. Thanks for putting it all into perspective.

Lori said...

Jennifer, what a scary experience for your family. I'm sorry you lost so much, your house was just darling. (I laughed about the scrapbooks)
I LOVE the things that you listed/learned, thanks for sharing those and helping us keep perspective.
We had a house fire when I was 6, and lost almost everything, it's a very devastating thing.

Dawn said...

Jennifer, your house was so darlng. I can't imagine how terrifying that must have been. How wonderful to see your family today, and the excitement you must feel to be in your new home soon!

Amie said...


I just want to come over there and give you a huge hug. What an nightmare.. I am praising God for the person who knocked on your door and for God looking out for you all. those are horrific pictures and the what if's that can go through your mind can certainly put any bad day into perspective.

I was having a tiny little grumpy moment myself, and I will tell you, you knocked me back to my senses! Thank you for sharing that story with us.


Brian & Ruth said...

Dear Jennifer:
I am new to your blog (found it from Truly Blessed site) and I too am the mother to 3 boys with a daughter from China in waiting.

I was so terribly saddened by this post, and cannot even imagine what you all have been through! And I thought CCAA only making it through 3 days was something to be sad about - NO WAY! I am amazed by your strength and the life lessons you have learned in the process of such a tragedy.THANK YOU for sharing with all of us what is 'really' important in life!

My heart goes out to you and your family. May this 9th birthday for your son be one filled with incredibly wonderful memories to build on.
Many Blessings,
Ruth (lid 1/27/06)

Ms. Dragonfly said...

wow. I bet that changed your life in more ways than just the obvious. That house looked precious.

Carey said...

Wow, that's incredible. I can't imagine what that would be like. The pictures are just so sad. PTL everyone was safe...even the dog!

Don and Lisa Osborn said...

Hi Jennifer,

I am new to your blog. I read about your fire and felt so bad for all the times I've said I hate my house. I commend you for learning lessons from this terrible event and no doubt you will minister to others who've encountered such loss.

Thanks for reminding me what really matters. I am glad you and your family weren't harmed and I celebrate your rebuilding.

Mother to Lindy Li-Xiao
Paperchasing for her mei mei

Kimber said...

WOW! I don't think I knew you went through all of that! I took what you learned from that experience to heart. I think I make some discs of my photos and store them in the safety deposit box. Glad you all made it out safe and sound:)


cougchick said...

Wow. That is frightening. Thanks for sharing. This puts a lot of things into perspective for me. I am feeling a bit sorry for myself this week for no particular reason. This snapped me out of it.

How do you go about getting heat sensors? We have the CO detectors and smoke alarms but not the heat sensors.

qUeEn oF tHe cAstLe said...

Who knocked on your door?

qUeEn oF tHe cAstLe said...

Who knocked on your door?

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